Hawaii is the only U.S. state that was once a kingdom with its own monarchy. The only real royal palaces in the United States are in Hawaii.
The Iolani Palace was completed in 1882, during the reign of David Kalakaua, the last king of Hawaii. It had electricity years before the White House did. The last royal to live there was Kalakaua's sister, Queen Liliuokalani, who abdicated in 1895 after the overthrow of the monarchy.
In 1898 Hawaii was annexed by the United States, and in 1900 it became a U.S. territory. On August 21, 1959 it became the 50th American state. In 1993 the U.S. government apologized for U.S. participation in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
From 1810 to 1893, the Kingdom of Hawaii was ruled by two major dynastic families: the House of Kamehameha and the Kalākaua Dynasty. Five members of the Kamehameha family led the government styled as Kamehameha. Lunalilo was a member of the House of Kamehameha through his mother. Liholiho (Kamehameha II) and Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III), were direct sons of Kamehameha the Great. For a period of Liholiho and Kauikeaouli's reigns, the primary wife of Kamehameha the Great, Queen Kaʻahumanu, ruled as Queen Regent and Kuhina Nui, or Prime Minister.
Rulers of Unified Hawaii (Islands):
1. Kamehameha I (1736? - 1819), reigned 1782-1819 --> Founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Kamehameha had many wives. The exact number is debated because documents that recorded the names of his wives were destroyed. Bingham lists 21, but earlier research from Mary Kawena Pukui counted 26. In Kamehameha's Children Today authors Ahlo and Walker list 30 wives: 18 that bore children, and 12 that did not. They state the total number of children to be 35: 17 sons, and 18 daughters. While he had many wives and children, his children through his highest-ranking wife, Keōpūolani, succeeded him to the throne.
2. Kamehameha II (n?e Iolani Liholiho) (1797-1824), reigned 1819-1824
Firstborn son of Kamehameha I and his highest ranking wife Keōpūolani. Kamehameha II, at the urging of powerful female chiefs such as Kaʻahumanu, abolished the kapu system that had governed life in Hawaiʻi for centuries. At the battle of Kuamoʻo on the island of Hawaiʻi, the king's better-armed forces, led by Kalanimōkū, defeated the last defenders of the Hawaiian gods, temples, and priesthoods of the ancient organized religion. The first Christian missionaries arrived only a few months later in the Hawaiian Islands. He never officially converted to Christianity because he refused to give up four of his five wives and his love of alcohol. He (like his father) married several relatives of high rank, but he was the last Hawaiian king to practice polygamy. His favorite wife was his half-sister Kamāmalu. Kīnaʻu (Kamāmalu's full-blood sister) was his second wife who would later remarry and become Kuhina Nui. Princess Kalani Pauahi was his niece by his half-brother Pauli Kaōleiokū. She later remarried and gave birth to Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani. Kekāuluohi was half-sister of Kamāmalu and Kīnaʻu through their mother Kaheiheimālie who was another of his father's wives BTW Kekāuluohi has been a wife of both Kamehameha I & Kamehameha II. And in 1821 was given by Kamehameha II to his friend Charles Kanaʻina on Kauaʻi in marriage. Princess Kekauʻōnohi was Kamehameha II's niece and granddaughter of Kamehameha I, and would later become royal governor of the islands of Maui and Kauaʻi.
Kamāmalu & Kamehameha II caught the measles, to which they had no immunity, during a visit to the UK (London). Kamāmalu died on July 8, 1824. The grief-stricken Kamehameha II died six days later on July 14, 1824.
3. Kamehameha III (n?e Kauikeaouli) (1813-1854), reigned 1825-1854
The second son of King Kamehameha I and his highest ranking wife, Queen Keōpūolani. He was about 16 years younger than his brother Kamehameha II. He had a troubled childhood. He was torn between the Puritan Christian guidelines imposed on the kingdom by the kuhina nui (Queen Regent) who was his stepmother Kaʻahumanu, and the desires to honor the old traditions. In ancient Hawaii, upper classes considered a marriage with a close royal family member to be an excellent way to preserve pure bloodlines. He had loved his sister Nāhiʻenaʻena and planned to marry her since childhood, but the union was opposed by the missionaries due to their perceptions of incest. It was proposed in 1832 that Kamanele, the daughter of Governor John Adams Kuakini, would be the most suitable in age, rank, and education for his queen. Kamanele died in 1834 before the wedding took place. Instead Kamehameha III chose to marry Kalama Hakaleleponi Kapakuhaili, against the wishes of Kīnaʻu. Kalama's father was Naihekukui. After his sister's death in late 1836, he married Kalama February 14, 1837 in a Christian ceremony. Kamehameha III and Kalama had two children: Prince Keaweaweʻulaokalani I and Prince Keaweaweʻulaokalani II who both died while infants.He and his mistress Jane Lahilahi, a daughter of his father's advisor John Young, had twin illegitimate sons: Kīwalaʻō, who Kamehameha initially took to raise, died young, while the other twin Albert Kūnuiākea survived and was later adopted by Kamehameha and his wife Queen Kalama. Kūnuiākea lived to adulthood but died childless (1851?1902).
4. Kamehameha IV (n?e Alexander ʻIolani Liholiho) (1834-1863), reigned 1855-1863
His father was High Chief Mataio Kekūanāoʻa, Royal Governor of Oʻahu. His mother was Princess Elizabeth Kīnaʻu the Kuhina Nui or Prime Minister of the Kingdom. His mother, a daughter of Kamehameha I, was married 1st to Kamehameha II, 2nd to Kahalaiʻa Luanuʻu, a grandson of Kamehameha I and 3rd to Mataio Kekūanāoʻa.
Only a year after assuming the throne, Kamehameha IV took the hand of Emma Rooke as his queen. Queen Emma was the granddaughter of John Young, Kamehameha the Great's British royal advisor and companion. She also was Kamehameha's great-grandniece. After marrying in 1856, the royal couple had their only child in May 1858, named Prince Albert Edward Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa a Kamehameha. Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was Prince Albert's godmother (by proxy) at his christening in Honolulu. Kamehameha IV thought he was responsible for the death of Prince Albert because he gave him a cold shower to "cool him off" when Albert wanted something he could not have. His ailing health worsened. At the age of four, the young prince died on August 27, 1862.
At the time of Kamehameha IV 's assumption to the throne, the American population in the Hawaiian islands continued to grow and exert economic and political pressure in the Kingdom. Kamehameha IV worried that the United States of America would make a move to conquer his nation; an annexation treaty was proposed in Kamehameha III's reign. He strongly felt that annexation would mean the end of the monarchy and the Hawaiian people. Kamehameha IV instead wanted a reciprocity treaty, involving trade and taxes, between the United States and Hawaii. He was not successful. In an effort to balance the amount of influence exerted by American interests, Kamehameha IV began a campaign to limit Hawaii's dependence on American trade and commerce. He sought deals with the British and other European governments, but his reign did not survive long enough to make them.
Kamehameha IV died of chronic asthma on November 30, 1863, and was succeeded by his brother, who took the name Kamehameha V.
5. Kamehameha V (n?e Lot Kapuāiwa) (1830-1872) reign 1863-1872
His mother was Elizabeth Kīnaʻu and father was Mataio Kekūanāoʻa. His sister and only named Heir Apparent to the throne, Crown Princess Victoria Kamāmalu had died childless in 1866 and through the remainder of his reign, Kamehameha V did not name a successor. He died on December 11, 1872 while the preparations for his birthday celebration were underway. As Kamehameha V lay bedstricken, he answered those that came to visit him: "The Good Lord cannot take me today, today is my birthday". He offered the throne to his cousin Bernice Pauahi Bishop who refused, and died an hour later without designating an heir. He was buried in the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii known as Mauna ʻAla.
He was the last ruling monarch of the House of Kamehameha styled under the Kamehameha name. Before his death Kamehameha V stated:"The throne belongs to Lunalilo; I will not appoint him, because I consider him unworthy of the position. The constitution, in case I make no nomination, provides for the election of the next King; let it be so." With no heir at his death, the next monarch would be elected by the legislature. Kamehameha V's cousin William Charles Lunalilo, a Kamehameha by birth from his mother, demanded a general election and won. The legislature agreed and Lunalilo became the first elected King of the Hawaiian Kingdom
6. Lunalilo (n?e William Charles Lunalilo) (1835-1874), reign 1873-1874
His mother was High Chiefess Miriam Auhea Kekāuluohi (later styled as Kaʻahumanu III) and his father was High Chief Charles Kanaʻina. Kekāuluohi, who was a niece of Kamehameha I, has been a wife of both Kamehameha I & Kamehameha II. And in 1821 was given by Kamehameha II to his friend Charles Kanaʻina on Kauaʻi in marriage. Lunalilo was betrothed to his cousin Princess Victoria Kamāmalu. But her brothers refused to have her marry him. He also briefly courted the hand of Liliʻuokalani, but she broke off the engagement on the advice of Kamehameha IV. Liliʻuokalani would eventually marry American John Owen Dominis and Victoria Kamāmalu would die unmarried and childless at the age of 27 in 1866. Another alleged prospective bride was a maternal cousin Miriam Auhea Kekāuluohi Crowningburg, who married a German-American settler instead. During his reign as king, it was proposed that he marry Queen Emma, the widow of Kamehameha IV, but this proposal came to nothing due to Queen Emma's devotion to her late husband. They remained friends and it was said he considered naming her as his heir before he died. According to Emma's cousin Peter Kaʻeo, there were gossips that the King would marry a Tahitian chiefess from Bora Bora. Although never marrying, the king took Eliza Meek (1832?1888), the hapa-haole daughter of Captain John Meek, the harbor pilot of Honolulu, and sister-in-law of his chamberlain Horace Crabbe, as his mistress
7. Kalākaua (n?e David Laʻamea Kamananakapu Mahinulani Naloiaehuokalani Lumialani Kalākaua) (1836-1891), reign 1874-1891
Kalākaua was the second surviving son of his father High Chief Caesar Kaluaiku Kapaʻakea and his mother High Chiefess Analea Keohokālole. King Kamehameha V, the last monarch of the Kamehameha dynasty, died on December 12, 1872 without naming a successor to the throne. Under the kingdom's constitution, if the king did not appoint a successor, a new king would be appointed by the legislature. There were several candidates for the Hawaiian throne. However, the contest was centered on the two high-ranking aliʻi, or chiefs: William C. Lunalilo and Kalākaua. On January 1, 1873, a popular election was held for the office of King of Hawaii. Lunalilo won with an overwhelming majority. The next day, the legislature confirmed the popular vote and elected Lunalilo unanimously. Kalākaua conceded. Lunalilo died on February 3, 1874, and Kalākaua was elected to replace him, supported by the legislature although many of the populace, mainly the native Hawaiian and British subjects in the kingdom, preferred Queen Dowager Emma, who stood against him. Upon ascending the throne, Kalākaua named his brother, William Pitt Leleiohoku, as his heir. On April 10, 1877 at the age of 23, Prince Leleiohoku died of rheumatic fever. Because Leleiohoku was unmarried and had no children, his brother King Kalākaua named their sister Liliʻuokalani Crown Princess. It was said that Keʻelikōlani had wished that Kalākaua had chosen her instead of Liliʻuokalani, but making her heir would make Bernice Pauahi Bishop next in line to the throne.
In 1881, King Kalākaua left Hawaiʻi and became the first monarch in the world, to venture on a trip around the world to study the matter of immigration and to improve foreign relations. Traveling throughout Mexico and Southern California and reportedly drinking excessively, the monarch suffered a stroke in Santa Barbara and was rushed back to San Francisco. Kalakaua fell into a coma in his suite on January 18 and died two days later on January 20, 1891. The official cause of death, listed by US Navy officials was that the king had died from Bright's Disease (inflammation of the kidneys). Because he and his wife, Queen Kapiʻolani, did not have children, Kalākaua's sister, Liliʻuokalani, succeeded him to the Hawaiian throne.
8. Liliʻuokalani (n?e Lydia Lili?u Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamaka?eha) (1838 ?1917), reign 1891-1893
Her parents were Analea Keohokālole and Caesar Kapaʻakea. She married American businessman John Owen Dominis. The couple had no children of their own but had several adopted children. The couple never had any children of their own but did have three hānai children: Lydia Kaʻonohiponiponiokalani Aholo, the daughter of a family friend; Joseph Kaiponohea ʻAeʻa, the son of a retainer; and John ʻAimoku Dominis, her husband's illegitimate son.
After the accession of her brother, Kalākaua to the throne as monarch in 1874, she and her siblings were given Western style titles of Prince and Princess. In 1877, after her younger brother Leleiohoku II's death, she was proclaimed as heir to the throne and given the title Crown Princess. Liliʻuokalani became monarch on January 29, 1891, after her brother's death. During her reign, she attempted to draft a new constitution which would restore the veto power of the monarchy and the voting rights of the economically disenfranchised. Threatened by her attempts to abrogate the Bayonet Constitution, pro-American elements in Hawaii overthrew the monarchy on January 17, 1893. The overthrow was backed by the landing of U.S. Marines under John L. Stevens, which rendered the monarchy unable to protect itself. After the failed 1895 Wilcox Rebellion, the government of the Republic of Hawaii placed the former queen under house arrest at the ʻIolani Palace. Attempts were made to restore the monarchy and oppose annexation to United States, but with the outbreak of the Spanish?American War, the United States annexed the Republic of Hawaii. Living out the remainder of her later life as a private citizen, Liliʻuokalani died at her residence of Washington Place in November 11, 1917.
The Queen Liliʻuokalani Trust was established on December 2, 1909, for the care of orphaned and destitute children in Hawaii. The entire proceeds of her estate was to be used for the trust, with the exception of twelve individual inheritances specified therein, effective upon her death.The largest of these hereditary estates were willed to her hānai sons and their heirs: John ʻAimoku Dominis would receive Washington Place while Joseph Kaiponohea ʻAeʻa would receive Kealohilani, her residence at Waikiki. Both men predeceased the queen. The Queen Liliʻuokalani Children's Center exists today as part of her legacy. Before and after her death, lawsuits were filed to overturn her will establishing the Trust. One notable litigant was Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, the nephew of her brother Kalākaua and her second cousin, who brought a suit against the Trust on November 30, 1915, questioning the queen's competency in executing the will and attempting to break the Trust. These lawsuits were resolved in 1923 and the will went into probate.